Applications to Oxford for study beginning in 2012 have remained similar to those for 2011, despite a drop of almost 8 per cent in university applications across the country.

According to data released in December, before the final deadline for most UK higher education institutions, the amount of UK students applying to university has fallen by 7.6%, with 23,228 fewer people applying.

OUSU President Martha McKenzie commented, “it is incredibly likely that the increase in tuition fees has contributed to this deterrent effect, however this is partly because applications spiked so significantly in 2010. The extreme pressure to apply before the new funding climate has eased.”

Applications to Oxbridge however, have remained relatively stable. A spokesperson for the University of Oxford said that they had not published the exact figures for the number of applicants they received this year, but that the number of applicants has stayed “roughly the same”.

When asked why Oxford has managed to retain its share of applications, a spokesperson told Cherwell “Oxford will continue to work tirelessly to maintain its excellence in research and teaching, and make sure it is a very attractive option to students around the world.

“We continue to receive around five applications from extremely bright students for every undergraduate place.”

Lincoln student, Nathan Akehurst, said, “applications have dropped as a direct result of the raised fees; the correlation is too great to assume otherwise.” He added that “Oxford’s retention rate is due to its perceived prestige; people still feel it is “value for money” to be here, whereas they would not necessarily be willing to pay £9k/pa for a university lower down the league tables.”

Second year Classics and English student Ben Hudson agreed, saying that “the prospect of paying nine thousand pounds a year for tuition, plus ever-increasing living costs and limited loans has, as predicted, put off the poorest students from applying after all, while the richer demographic who tend to apply to top-rank universities are unaffected.”

However, a spokesperson for the University of Oxford defended the university’s approach to the fee increase, saying “Oxford continues to work hard to ensure that all those with the potential to succeed apply – regardless of background,” adding that “Oxford has the most generous financial support for the lowest-income students of any university in the country.’